Were You Injured Because Of Someone Else's Negligence? Browse Our FAQs
In addition to coping with a lot of stress and frustration, personal injury cases also come with a lot of questions. Here are some of the questions we hear the most at Max Meyers Law.
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What is Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage?
Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage is an optional type of insurance you buy on your auto insurance policy to protect you and your family against vehicles that have no insurance. Unfortunately, many cars on Washington state roadways do not have any insurance to cover damages caused in a car accident.
When you’re in a car accident that is not your fault the other car’s insurance is suppose to pay:
- To fix your car
- Pay your medical bills
- Pay your lost wages
- Compensate you for all your harms and losses
When an at-fault driver has no insurance your UM coverage is supposed to step in and take the place of the at-fault party’s insurance. Your UM insurance will pay for all the damages you suffered in the accident caused by the negligence of someone else. (Note that this differs from Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage, which covers you if the at-fault driver does not have sufficient coverage to cover your damages.)
UM insurance also covers accidents caused by someone driving a stolen vehicle. A vehicle may have insurance but if it’s been stolen and you’re hit by the car thief, there is an exception and no insurance will apply from the stolen vehicle.
The same is true of an intentional act by another driver, like in a road rage incident. If another car intentionally hits you, the insurance on at-fault car will likely deny payment of any of your damages. Why? Because the collision was intentional which is almost always an exclusion on auto insurance coverage.
If you’re hit by a stolen car or road rage driver you should contact an experienced Washington car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Call us at 425-399-7000.
What Is PIP Insurance & Should I Use It After a Car Accident?
You can buy optional Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage in Washington State to help pay some of your losses from an auto accident, regardless of who caused the wreck. Although you do not have to buy PIP insurance in Washington, state law requires your auto insurer to offer it when you buy a new policy.
To opt out of PIP coverage, you have to reject it in writing. Without your written rejection, your insurance company has to provide the coverage, and you have to pay for it. Most motor vehicle policies in Washington include PIP coverage.
For help with a Washington PIP insurance claim, call Max Meyers Law at 425-399-7000.
Which Costs Will My PIP Policy Cover?
Regardless of who caused your wreck, your PIP can pay some of your:
- Medical bills;
- Lost wages;
- Lost services; and
- Funeral costs.
How Much PIP Coverage Can I Buy?
Your insurance company might offer coverage above the minimum coverage limits. Your PIP policy will pay up to a certain amount for a variety of accident-related losses. State law sets the maximum amount of coverage you can purchase.
Medical and Hospital Expenses
Each person injured in an accident can get up to a total of $10,000 for reasonable medical and hospital expenses they faced because of the crash. Your PIP policy will continue to pay for medical costs for up to three years after the wreck. The maximum amount of coverage you can buy is $35,000.
Funeral expenses are reimbursed up to $2,000. This amount is the minimum and the maximum coverage you can buy.
You can get income continuation, or lost wages, after a car crash. Your PIP policy will pay a maximum of $200 per week, up to a total of $10,000. These benefits do not begin until you miss 14 consecutive days of work after the wreck. The maximum coverage will pay up to $700 per week for a total of $35,000.
Loss of Services
If you have to pay someone to perform work that you cannot do because of your injuries, like cooking or cleaning, PIP will pay up to $200 a week, up to a total of $5,000. The most you can buy is $14,600 in coverage.
Do I Have to Pay for Any of My Medical Costs Myself?
Unlike some other types of insurance, like health insurance, your PIP coverage should pay all of your covered medical bills, up to the policy limits. You do not have a co-pay or deductible with PIP medical expense benefits.
Your insurer might demand that you get an Independent Medical Examination (IME) with a doctor the company selects. If you refuse to have the IME, the insurer might suspend or terminate payment of your PIP benefits. If your insurer takes any of these steps, you should talk with a lawyer right away.
How Much Does PIP Coverage Cost?
Multiple factors can affect how much you will have to pay for PIP coverage.
Because PIP coverage is something you buy from an insurance company, not from the government, the same amount of coverage can cost more at one company than it costs at another. You might save money if you shop around and compare prices.
It is also important to note that the insurance company will charge you for every vehicle you cover with PIP. Many insurance companies make you pay for PIP coverage on all of your cars and trucks, and will not let you buy the protection for only one of your vehicles.
Who Can Use PIP Benefits?
Imagine, for example, that you have PIP coverage on your car. Your PIP policy can pay benefits to you and:
- Anyone living in your household related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption;
- Foster children;
- Passengers in your car; and
- Bicyclists or pedestrians who suffered injuries in the crash.
When Does PIP Not Apply?
Your insurance company can refuse to pay for medical or other services if it decides:
- The cost is unreasonable;
- The service is unnecessary;
- The service is not related to the accident; or
- You incurred the cost more than three years after the accident.
PIP coverage will not cover injuries from:
- Motorcycles, with some exceptions;
- Recreational vehicles;
- Off-road vehicles; and
- Farm equipment.
Even if the vehicle has PIP coverage, it will be null and void if a legal exception applies. This could impact the situation if the policyholder:
- Intentionally injured someone else or themselves;
- Was committing a felony at the time of the accident;
- Sustained the injuries while racing; or
- Was in a vehicle that did not have PIP coverage.
Can I Purchase Other Optional Coverage?
Because some people drive without auto insurance, experts recommend that you carry PIP coverage on your auto policy. Getting hurt in a crash is bad enough, but having a stack of medical bills to pay will make the situation worse.
Since the amount of PIP coverage you can buy would not pay all of your losses in the event of a significant injury, you should also consider purchasing uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. UM coverage can overlap with other insurance policies to pay for your damages after a crash with an uninsured driver. Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage can help you if the other driver only carried the minimum level of insurance and it is not enough to pay for all your losses.
How Can I Discuss My PIP Claim With a Car Accident Lawyer?
At Max Meyers Law, we apply our years of experience to help you fight for the compensation you deserve. We are comfortable with the language and provisions in motor vehicle insurance policies, and we know how to deal with insurance companies after a wreck. Give us a call at 425-399-7000, and we will set up a no-cost consultation and case evaluation.
What are the most common causes of car accidents in Washington state?
As you probably know, there are many different circumstances that can contribute to a car accident. However, among the many causes, there are certainly a few that play more prominent roles than others. The Washington State Department of Transportation's most recent report summarizing collision data from 2011 provides a helpful look at some of the more common causes of car accidents in Seattle and the rest of the state:
Most Common Causes of Washington Car Accidents—All Collisions
- Did not grant right of way to vehicle
- Exceeding reasonable safe speed
- Following too closely
Most Common Causes of Washington Car Accidents—Fatal Accidents
- Under the influence of alcohol
- Car went over the center line
- Exceeding reasonable safe speed
- Exceeding stated speed limit
These were all far and above the most common causes, but there were many others listed including:
- Disregarding stop light
- Improper turn
- Operating defective equipment
- Driver distractions outside of the vehicle
- Apparently asleep
- Driver interacting with passengers, animals or objects in the vehicle
- Improper passing
- Under the influence of drugs
It is alarming how many things can cause accidents, so it is your duty as a licensed driver to make sure you do everything you can to drive safely. Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to control other drivers on the road, but by operating your vehicle safely, you will hopefully be able to prevent a Washington traffic accident before it occurs.
If you found our answer helpful, please share this article on Facebook to educate your friends and family about the dangers on the roads of Washington.